Free Spirits at Noisy Water

The “Free Spirits at Noisy Water” sculpture by local bronze artist Dave McGary was installed in July 1995. The eight horse one and a half life-size sculpture represents seven horse breeds – the Standardbred, Morgan, Arabian, Paint (mare and foal), Appaloosa, Quarter Horse, and Thoroughbred. The Sculpture measures 255 feet long by 36 feet high, including the height of the hill which is constructed of 94,500 cubic feet of dirt. It took 18 weeks to create out of 60 or more pieces of cast bronze weighing between 3,000 and 5,000 pounds. They are each held up by a stainless steel frame anchored in nearly 1,500 cubic feet of cement. Two foundries, one in Wyoming and one in Colorado, were involved in the casting. When the pieces were assembled and welded to the armature, smaller employees were used due to the necessity of climbing into the cavity. In Wyoming, the welder was so intent on his task that he discovered that he had welded himself inside of the horse. At each step of construction, experts in each breed were consulted to ensure accuracy. The sculptures were transported whole to the McGary Studio in Ruidoso, where the finish was smoothed and an “acrylic patina” was applied using paint alternated with heat to make a very durable finish. Free Spirits at Noisy Water is one of the most photographed works of art in the state of New Mexico.